The term Learning in the flow of work (LIFW) was first coined by Josh Bersin in 2018 who observed that “The urgency of work invariably trumps the luxury of learning”. Learning in the flow of work addresses this challenge of priorities by providing microlearning at the time of need. It has since become widely acknowledged as a valuable part of the broader learning offering within organisations.
At LIW we design our programs following the Design for Impact D4I® methodology. This ensures that we align learning with business objectives and enables us to identify opportunities to build learning in the flow of work into our development programs through coaching, peer support, experimentation and ‘bringing real work into the room’.
Below is a summary of other leadership thinkers and the way they approach LIFW
GPStrategies propose turning the learning methodology on its head – instead of top down mandated learning at a time and place defined by others – provide in the moment learning driven by individual or business need. Create individual learner journeys that align to adult learning theory, without creating cognitive overload and instead provide support in the flow of work – just when it’s needed.
LinkedIn Learnings workplace learning report 2023 identified four focus areas for L&D – and two of these are aligning learning to business goals and creating a culture of learning. They add that the number 1 way employers are addressing retention is by providing learning opportunities. ‘People who aren’t learning will leave’.
As far back as 2018 LinkedIn Learning identified that 49% of employees prefer to learn at the point of need and 58% want to learn at their own pace. These results combined with their observation of a ‘short shelf life for skills’ point to learning in the flow of work as an effective tool for engagement and retention.
Valamis define two types of learning – timely relevant learning – what we call learning in the flow of work, as opposed to intense learning which is more often out of the workplace, focused on skill building and behaviour change. Both have a role in development, sometimes a more intensive, time-consuming learning experience is needed to build specific capabilities, but increasingly employers are finding that timely relevant learning provides a smart way to keep employees appropriately skilled and motivated to do their work through incremental micro-learning experiences.
Omniplex observe that learning in the flow of work provides employees with the content and information needed to perform their tasks – at the time of need. At its best it doesn’t feel like learning at all and it doesn’t disrupt their day. They identify three priorities for implementation: make the learning available on demand, create bite-size microlearning, make the content entertaining as well as informative. There are many platforms that support this kind of learning methodology (including Omniplex), but we would advise a combination of LITF plus programmatic learning to support employees fully on their learning journey.
We know how hard it is to keep on top of all the latest leadership thinking so why not let Juliet, our research lead, do the hard work for you? Juliet reviews the latest research and analysis coming out of the big publishers, research houses and industry thinkers including BCG, Josh Bersin, CIPD, McKinsey and curates the most important and relevant insights. Think big organisational and leadership themes like culture change, hybrid working and DE&I which we then share with you in this quarterly Leadership Update.